Pope Francis, March 2013

Pope Francis, March 2013

Responding to the Pope’s words on women in his recent interview with the Jesuit magazine “America,” Sister Maureen Fiedler echoes so many others who have called Pope Francis a breath of fresh air — but then Fiedler writes:

“Then he advocates working harder ‘to develop a profound theology of women.’ Breaking news, Pope Francis: There is already a profound theology of women. There are libraries of feminist theology just waiting for you, and others to dive in.”

Read Fiedler’s full comments in the Francis Chronicles at the National Catholic Reporter.

 


By Bishop Joe Morris Doss

The Rev. Joe Morris Doss

The Rev. Joe Morris Doss

What if this Pope fulfills all of the hopes he is building with his concern for the poor, and his down to earth charm, and it makes no difference?

Imagine the most radical actions. What if the Pope were to take off all his medieval vestments (which are no longer appreciated as first century Roman attire), move out of the Vatican palace and into the city of his episcopacy, give the wealth of the church to the poor, wash the feet of street people every day, and issue powerful declarations calling for justice and peace in all their regards? What would that mean if what remains in place is a massive, monolithic, utterly centralized, juridical, clerically dominated Church subject to the dictates of scholastic medieval doctrine that has become abstract from actualities, absolutist in the face of valued relativities, and arrogant?

We all wish Pope Francis the very best, and he has made us hopeful. Nevertheless, that very glimpse of hope makes me, personally, realize how far the church has to go; this glimmer of light makes me see the surrounding darkness more clearly.
Read More…


By Mary E. Hunt

Mary E. Hunt, WATER

Mary E. Hunt, WATER

Now that the smoke has cleared from St. Peter’s Square, the future of the Roman Catholic Church is on the minds of many. Catholics are eternally hopeful, so the news of the papal election of an Argentine Jesuit, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a man of simple personal ways, engendered a certain enthusiasm.

My first official act in the new pontificate was to call a wise octogenarian friend in Buenos Aires, my favorite city in the world, to join in that country’s pride and get an initial assessment of the man. Her reaction was what I would have expected from a Catholic in Boston if Cardinal Bernard Law had been elected. Her one word that stood out was “scary.”

Progressive Catholics had low expectations of the conclave since only what went in would come out, only hand-picked conservative, toe-the-party-line types were electors. Moreover, the process was flawed on the face of it by the lack of women, young people, and lay people. It was flawed by a dearth of democracy. Not even the seagull that sat on the chimney awaiting the decision was enough to persuade that the Holy Spirit was really in charge. Read More…


By Martin E. Marty

Martin E. Marty

Martin E. Marty

“It behooves us to keep talking about the papal election for as long as possible. Once it’s over, we’re back to the federal budget deliberations, and I prefer a story in which nothing gets sequestered but the cardinals.” Thus columnist Gail Collins spoke for many of us. So much of the talk and script after the abdication of one pope and accession of another was a distraction from reference to other urgent issues. No one can accuse the media of having slighted this religion story, as communicators scrambled to forget from their own uninformed guesses and bets before someone of whom almost none had heard was elected. (John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter was one of the very few who mentioned him as a prospect among many.)

 

Let me lift out just one feature of the event and the coverage: the attention to participation in central religious themes:  It seemed strange to see words like “prayer,” “humility,” “praise,” “piety,” “justice” and “holiness” in headlines which momentarily obscured the more familiar Catholic themes such as “abortion,” “birth control,” “sex,” “homosexuality,” and, most notoriously, “abuse” and “coverup,” terms which preoccupy publics the way “Trinity,” “Incarnation,” “Eucharist,” and others occupied the minds and acts of church-definers in many other centuries. One hopes that curiosity about Pope Francis, the startling and creative choice of the sequestered cardinals, will keep prompting talk and coverage of classic themes.

Of course, there is talk about this pope being conservative on issues being debated. Few opinion-makers assumed that the exuberance of the faithful and the curious in the crowds when the election was announced can last. Many reporters, while having let their guard down about the new personality on the scene—the Jesuit, the Poor World and New World pontiff—soon found themselves putting their guard back up, to point to crises in the church. The biggest image gap in the media was between the show of power in the week of elections and, for a moment, the weakness it obscured from view. Read More…